Beyond the Headlines – Pakistan Zindabad

“It seems that violence is the only lens through which ordinary people in Pakistan are viewed in the media. Even if it’s a story about a Pakistani rock band, it will be set in the context of a violent society. There’s nothing false about the perspective. Pakistan has a problem with violence. Violence is used to silence journalists, and judges, and moderate religious scholars. And it seems to be getting worse. Every time I see somebody on television speaking out in anger against extremism or corruption—I’ll say a prayer for them. And every time one of those people is murdered, those of us who aspire to be like them grow a little more afraid.

So it’s not that the reports of violence are false. But they are only a small part of the truth. There’s so much other life being lived here.

But there’s only so much space in international newspapers. And there’s so much news in the world. So only the most jarring stories make the cut.”* 

When I was growing up and we would return to the United States for year-long furloughs, not many had heard of Pakistan. At the time Pakistan was a relatively new country, having recently gained independence from British controlled India to be a separate Muslim state.

Fast forward to today and it is rare to have a day go by without some news of Pakistan – and it’s rarely good news. While Malala Yousafzai made headlines for her courage in the face of persecution and terror, most headlines speak to danger and despair.

I belong to a peculiar tribe of people. Like any tribe we don’t all like each other and we don’t all get along. But certain things set us apart. We all grew up in Pakistan. We all fight against the stereotypes that dominate the news of Pakistan in the west. And it’s safe to say that most of us love Pakistan. We love what it gave us, we love what we became because of it, we love that it continues to struggle and shows an uncommon resilience despite terrorist and drone attacks, corrupt politics, and floods. We love the people and the place. 

Today, August 14, is Pakistan’s Independence Day and with it comes a desire to show readers something beyond the headlines of newspapers.

Because Pakistan is far more than what you see on television or read online or in print. Pakistan is pristine, untouched beaches and some of the tallest mountains in the world; it is many ethnic groups and a resilient people; it is ancient ruins of the Indus Valley (one of the oldest known civilizations) and hospitality to strangers.

So today I hope for Pakistan, I pray for Pakistan, for peace, truth, and rest. And along with those prayers I offer you glimpses of this beautiful country.

Pakistan Zindabad! Long Live Pakistan!

Blogger’s Note: These beautiful, National Geographic quality pictures were taken by Dan Mitchell, son of one of my high school friends, Jon Mitchell. Many thanks to him for permission to publish them on Communicating Across Boundaries.

Watching mountain goats A lot of stories in this face Beautiful people Father and son Gulmit Gulmit, Northern Areas Making naan Northern Pakistan Northern Pakistan - Alexander the Great lives on! Over 30 people on this car Rakaposhi Reflection Signs in Chinese and Urdu Vegetable stall view from Eagles nest Hotel

Purchase Passages Through Pakistan here – all proceeds go toward refugees in the Middle East.